The Secrets We Kept
Publication date: November 8th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
One year. That’s how long it’s been since childhood sweethearts Sully Graham and Cadence Gilbertson broke up, since one adoption and one out-of-state move turned their worlds upside down.
Suddenly, Cadence is back in New York City, but something’s different about her. The light in her eyes, the music in her laughter, the warmth in her smile—all of those things have entirely vanished. In their place stand the makings of a girl Sully can’t even begin to recognize, much less understand.
Still, despite the collective history of heartbreak between them, he’s convinced he can win her trust again, and he’s committed to proving the invincibility of their love no matter what it takes.
But Cadence is quietly harboring secrets of her own. Dark secrets. Ugly secrets. Secrets that could break a person. And though broken herself and unbearably lonely, she’s determined to protect Sully from her terrible, biting truths. Even if it means locking him out of her life forever.
The only problem is it seems her heart hasn’t quite received the memo. One glimpse of him is all it takes for her to trip into familiar (and, she’ll admit, addictive) feelings that threaten to all but consume her. Now her biggest fear is that her secrets will begin to slowly unravel one by one…long before Sully’s resolve ever does.
The Secrets We Kept is a moving story about first love, friendship, and forgiveness, and the enduring bonds that forever connect us and give us our strength.
Sully still remembered the first time that he saw Cadence. It was a sweltering summer that year. Push-cart ice cream vendors roamed the neighborhood blocks like soldiers on patrol, circling playgrounds and community swimming pools. It was common to see people pop open fire hydrants like champagne bottles, children dancing in the shoots of water as miniature rainbows reflected off the asphalt.
The hard work in particular manifested in the Peterson prison as an endless checklist of chores (otherwise known as “slave labor” in the Spencer Graham lexicon), the completion or lack thereof of which determined whether or not you ate dinner that night. Additionally, each child had to fulfill their assigned task in accordance with certain standards, and as Ol’ Man Peterson was an uncompromising perfectionist, one chore could go through three to five rounds before the man extended a grunt of approval.
The afternoon Cadence arrived, Sully and Spencer were attached to yard work. While the Peterson walk-up sat only a few yards from the curb, which meant there barely existed a lawn between the chain-link fence and the front door, Ol’ Man Peterson preferred his grass cut to an exact height. It was taking painstaking precision to perfect his science.
Spencer lay on his stomach with a see-through ruler to measure the blades of grass. “I think you cut this side of the walkway too short.”
Sully rested a broom atop his shoulders, arms draping over it like a scarecrow. “It’s way too hot to even care, dude.”
“I care because I want to see the new Adam Sandler, movie and I’m not about to get grounded for another weekend.”
“How many times have I been grounded because of you?”
Spencer stood. “Whatever. I’m taking over sweeping duty.” He stretched out a hand to receive the broom, but Sully’s gaze had already shifted to a royal blue SUV parking alongside the curb.
A woman emerged from the driver’s side. She came around to open the backseat door closest to the Peterson home. Two ballet flats appeared from under the door, reaching for the street. When the woman closed the door, a girl who looked to be Sully’s age or slightly younger stood with her, hands bracketed to the straps of her backpack and her bottom lip caught softly under her front teeth.
Spencer snapped in Sully’s face. “Hellooo? Earth to Sully.” Sully nodded toward the two, and when Spencer turned and saw them, he said, “Uh oh. Another casualty.”
The woman, clearly the girl’s caseworker, greeted the boys with a cheery “working hard?” before continuing up the walkway with her charge. Sully waited for the girl to look his way, and when she finally did, he offered her a soft, barely-there smile by way of hello. Part greeting, part commiseration. She instantly looked away.
They discovered her name only because she was sharing a bunk-bed with their friend Novah. “Cadence Livingston,” she told them. “She’s been in the system for a few years. She doesn’t talk much. Or at all. Those are the only things I was able to get from her. She’s probably halfway to being a mute.”
“I wish Spencer was a mute,” Sully muttered.
“Ha ha,” Spencer said. “You’re so funny. Absolutely hilarious. How did I get so lucky to have a brother like you?” Then he excused himself to see about fixing the eyesore Sully had made of the front lawn and left Sully fixated on the enigma of the quiet and elusive Cadence Livingston.
This is probably one of the most popular questions an author receives, and I’m happy to share my insights about writer’s block in hopes that more aspiring writers will know the truth, which is that writer’s block does not exist.
What we refer to as ‘writer’s block’ is instead typically one of three things: fear, resistance, or lack of planning. In this guest post, I want to talk about resistance because I feel that it’s probably the biggest culprit when it comes to writer’s block, and unless we reveal it for what it truly is, more and more writers will continue to find themselves tangled up in its nets.To put it simply, resistance is the “I just don’t feel like writing” part of writer’s block. It’s when you feel like you’re in a tug-of-war with your brain because you’ve been staring at a blank page for the past hour and the words just aren’t magically coming to you for some reason. So the writing ceases to be fun and you decide to give yourself a hall pass for the day and skip your writing altogether.Let’s get this out of the way first: writing is a discipline. Ask any writer and they’ll tell you the same. Yes, we write because it’s a joy. Yes, we write because it’s our passion. Yes, we write becauseit is impossible for us not to write. But it’s still a discipline—the same thing that makes an Olympic athlete wake up long before dawn to train, train, train in the name of a gold medal.There are times when I don’t feel like writing either (or exercising, or meditating, or making a fruit smoothie even) but I push through the resistance because I know the reward is going to far outweigh the effort I had to put in. I know that as long as I take the first step, the rest will come.So really, in effect, the only way to overcome resistance is simply to start writing. I know it’s not the answer most writers want to hear because they want to believe that there’s a miracle solution to their woes, something they can do that will make the entire novel materialize underneath their fingertips with minimum effort invested. But this isn’t the reality. Inspiration doesn’t fly around like Cupid waiting to shoot you with arrows of creativity. That’s just not how it works.I will tell you this, however: there have been many days (more days than I can count) when I sat down to clock in my writing hours and I wasn’t ‘feeling it’ at all. Not in the least. Still, I wrote.I wrote through the resistance, I wrote through the “this sucks” moments, I wrote through the “I don’t want to be doing this” phases. I wrote and wrote and wrote, typing one word after the other. And you know what? One of either two things happened: either I made it to the finish line with relief that I was over and done with today’s writing (and then I could celebrate having gotten a few thousand words under my belt), or at some point during the writing process, I rediscovered my joy and my excitement was back! Either scenario was a win-win if you think about it.Of course, there are questions to ask yourself if resistance repeatedly rears its head. Most important perhaps is this: is this a story that you’re really, truly passionate about? Do you absolutely love your characters? Do you care about the journey they’re taking in your story? Does the plot light you up?If you answered ‘no’ to any of those questions, you may need to return to the drawing board. Life is just too short to waste time, energy, and brainpower on a story that doesn’t light you up. Besides that, when you’re writing something you love and care about, the words tend to come that much more easily.
Lily Velez has been writing stories since she was six years old. Not much has changed since then. She still prefers the written word and her overactive imagination over the ‘real world’ (though to be fair, her stories no longer feature talking dinosaurs). A graduate of Rollins College and a Florida native, when she’s not reading or writing, she spends most of her days wrangling up her pit bulls Noah and Luna, planning exciting travel adventures, and nursing her addiction to cheese. All this when she isn’t participating in the extreme sport known as napping. You can learn more about Lily and her books at www.lilyvelezbooks.com.
Lily’s debut novel, The Secrets We Kept, comes out November 8, 2015.